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Monday, May 18, 2009

Xtra Normal - Type to Create a Movie

Xtra Normal is a site that I read about on a few different sites including iLearn Technology, but it wasn't until Gerardo Lazaro shared with me an example of his students' projects that I decided to try it out. Xtra Normal is a unique service that enables students to create animated, narrated movies just by typing the dialogue then dragging and dropping characters and set elements into the movies. There are free and paid plans for using Xtra Normal. The primary difference between the plans being that the paid plan offers more options for the setting of your story. The standard plan should be more than adequate for most academic applications.

Applications for Education
Xtra Normal could be a great way for students to create animated digital stories for most content areas. The example that Gerardo Lazaro shared with me has students getting ready for a science lesson.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
A Great Blog for Digital Storytelling Ideas
Go Animate - Make Your Own Animated Film
Digital Children's Library in English and Spanish

Medical Animation Library

The University of Pennsylvania Health System provides nearly 200 video animations and explanations of injuries, diseases, and body systems. The animations, like this one of a balloon angioplasty, are concise which makes them good for general reference purposes.

Applications for Education
The medical animation library could be a good resource for biology teachers, health teachers, and teachers of anatomy and physiology.

Thanks to Angela Maiers for the link via Twitter.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Dr. Saul's Biology in Motion
Visible Body - 3D Human Anatomy
Interactive Anatomy and Physiology Tutorials

A Global Survey of Schools and Students

Every spring MLTI (Maine Learning Technology Initiative) hosts a student/ teacher tech conference where teachers and students present together. It is a great time of learning and sharing. I presented last year, but am unable to attend this year.

This year Sarah Sutter, Alice Barr, Cheryl Oakes, Kern Kelley, and Jim Moulton are hoping to get the 800 student participants online and using Google as a data tool. The goal is to have all of the students looking at and utilizing the data from this global survey about the length of school days and access to public education around the world. If you have a couple of minutes, can you and your students please complete the brief survey? I know the students and teachers in attendance will appreciate it.

Lesson Plans for Teaching About the Supreme Court

US Supreme Court Justice David Souter recently announced that he plans to retire. President Obama will soon have to appoint Souter's replacement whose nomination will then have to be confirmed by the Senate. Today's episode of CNN Student News contains a segment explaining what makes the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice such a serious matter. The video is embedded below. Scroll down past the video to find links to lesson plans for teaching about the Supreme Court and the three branches of government.


EDSITEment has two lesson plans related to the purpose and functions of the Supreme Court. The first lesson plan is about the system of checks and balances that exists in US government and the role that the Supreme Court plays in that system. The second lesson plan on EDSITEment is an in-depth exploration of the concept of Judicial Review. This lesson plans uses the case of Dred Scott v. Sanford to learn about how a case moves through the judicial system up to the Supreme Court.

The New Deal Network, which is a great place to find resources about th Great Depression, FDR and the New Deal, has four lesson plans dealing with FDR's reorganization of the judiciary.

If you're teaching in an elementary school or middle school environment, Mr. Donn's website offers a good collection of lesson plans and games for learning about the three branches of government.

Photos 8 - Thousands of Public Domain Images

Photos 8 is a great place to find thousands of images that are in the public domain. These images can be used in any way that you and your students see fit. There are twenty-two categories of images of which the largest collections are of animals, birds, and sunsets.

I learned about Photos 8 through a great blog post on Making Teachers Nerdy. I encourage you to read that blog post for more public domain image resources.

Applications for Education
Other than using images of your own creation, using images in the public domain is best way to create a digital presentation. Using images in the public domain means that you don't have to worry about what is or isn't fair use or do you have to Creative Commons attributions.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Creative Commons Animal Photos
Video Introduction to Understanding Fair Use
Copyright for Educators

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